Thanks to Shiptheory for the collaboration on this guest blog outlining ways in which AI can bolster your customer service in eCommerce.

It’s fair to say that ChatGPT has recalibrated Artificial Intelligence (AI) back to the centre of conversation within tech spaces and far beyond. This robot writer has grabbed the attention of the general population; it has made business owners sit up and take notes on what AI can offer across the board.

AI can now be utilised for almost every destination on the eCommerce journey. With 78% of brands in 2022 reporting that they had either already integrated AI into their processes, or were planning to in the near future, it feels as if the options are to level up or get left behind. Given that this data was gathered before ChatGPT became publicly available, and with Bard – Google’s rival to ChatGPT – on the way, it’s likely that this number is currently skyrocketing.

One key area in which businesses can monopolise on AI is customer service. As AI gets smarter, it is becoming an increasingly reliable member of the customer support team, a problem solver and a marketer. But how can your business take advantage of this today?

What is AI?

AI is no longer something that exists exclusively in the realm of big tech – it’s in our homes, and in our phones. As the term AI has become popularised into colloquial language, it can be easy to brush over the actual capabilities the tech holds. 

So of course, we had to turn to ChatGPT to get an answer in plain English:

“AI stands for “Artificial Intelligence.” It allows machines to do things that would normally require human intelligence to accomplish. AI uses special algorithms to learn from data, recognise patterns, and make decisions on its own without being explicitly programmed to do so.

“This means that machines with AI can “think” and “learn” like humans do. They can do things like recognise faces, translate languages, take exams and even play games like Chess. AI is becoming more and more common in our daily lives, from voice assistants like Siri and Alexa to self-driving cars.”

How can AI help my business?

We’ve established that AI has infiltrated areas of all our lives, and of course, this means it is playing an integral role in all areas of business. 

The eCommerce sector has particularly welcomed AI with open arms, being the biggest adopter of AI in 2022. It’s highly likely that you’re already using AI in some form already, but perhaps there are uses that you haven’t considered yet. At Shiptheory we’re passionate about the unique ways in which businesses can benefit, and we want to share our secrets. 

AI is an extremely far reaching tool. It can play roles across the key departments in most online businesses, particularly customer service.

Customer service meets AI

Chatbots are part of the furniture when it comes to AI in eCommerce. The smarter chatbots become, the more equipped they are to resolve customer queries.

The likes of Intercom and Drift are tapping into this opportunity, enabling businesses to improve their response times and alleviate the burden on their support teams. In the past, the main objective was to reduce the number of times that support operatives had to intervene. And this is succeeding, with Intercom customers Simply seeing a 99% reduction in response times by using a chatbot.

But Intercom is going even further than their existing bot performance and has announced ‘Fin’, their new AI chatbot that will be powered by GPT-4. Intercom states that they firmly believe that the future of support is ‘a mix of bots and humans’, with Fin able to digest the entirety of your support docs and resources.

If a question is raised that Fin isn’t equipped to deal with, it knows when to pass the responsibility on to a human support agent. Likewise, Fin knows when to stay out of conversations that aren’t anything to do with its tasks.

Fin will also be much more conversational than many existing support bots. If Intercom’s vision for the future of support becomes a reality, it’s likely that we’ll see competitors produce alternatives to Fin, as conversational AI becomes more accessible.

Anyone who has ever worked in a customer support role has probably seen angry customers insisting on speaking to a real human – but with the trend towards AI picking up speed, intelligent AI could soon become the go-to for speedy and accurate support.

Minimising delivery errors

Last mile delivery issues have long plagued eCommerce stores and threatened their brand perception. We’ve all had experiences where delivery drivers have taken an age to find our home or receive a notification that your package has been successfully delivered, but there’s no sign of it.

A negative delivery experience could easily cause you to lose a customer, even if it’s not directly your fault. Because of this, any role AI can play in making the delivery experience smoother is incredibly valuable to the overall customer service experience.

Bikes Online used ParcelPerform’s AI to predict delivery times with a hugely increased accuracy. This means that they can provide customers with relevant updates on their order’s journey, but also send review requests at the right time.

Another more space-age example is AI-drone delivery. We’ll likely see a rise in autonomous drone delivery, with AI-calculated routes making deliveries more efficient than ever, particularly in rural or hard to reach areas.

Personalised Marketing with AI

Even with conversational AI like ChatGPT, it could be argued that AI is removing a human touch from business; replacing customer service operatives, and removing the personality from content…but this doesn’t have to be the case.

AI also doesn’t have to remain in the realm of computers. Our latest product launch at Shiptheory combines AI with personalised marketing to forge a personal connection between businesses and their customers, retain more customers and improve brand perception.

We’ve all seen corny fake handwriting fonts, but AI can help make them look a whole lot more convincing. ‘Penmanship’ enables customers to generate notes that look handwritten for all of their sales orders. Our AI adds variation to the notes so that customers are totally convinced when they receive the order that the note was written by hand.

Handwritten notes are a proven way to build great relationships with customers – in fact, handwritten notes have a 99% open rate compared to 27% for marketing emails. Naturally, producing handwritten notes for each customer would be incomparably time-consuming and a cost that the vast majority of businesses could not afford. With Penmanship, Shiptheory allows you to automatically produce a convincing alternative. As a result, there is no need for compromise on time or efficiency. 

Is AI going to replace us all?

Long story short…no it isn’t! Despite the widespread application of AI, it’s more of a tool that eCommerce businesses need to acquaint themselves with and take advantage of, rather than as an adversary. As more and more businesses take advantage of the potential of AI, it’s important to make sure your business isn’t left behind.

You can learn more about Penmanship, Shiptheory’s AI handwritten note solution, on the Shiptheory website. For other content around eCommerce and shipping, check out the Shiptheory blog!